Windows 8 will let users more easily and seemlessly bridge the gap between online and offline by directly tapping into Microsoft's Windows Live service.
In an Inside Windows Live blog posted yesterday, Chris Jones, vice president for Windows Live engineering, shared some of the features and benefits of the new Windows Live integration in Microsoft's upcoming OS.
Right off the bat, Windows 8 prompts you to log in with your Windows Live ID. If you allow it to do so, Windows Live can then automatically store your Windows profile, settings, and other key files in the cloud. This gives you the ability to synchronize those settings with any Windows 8 PC in which you're logged in, ensuring that you retain the same preferences from one PC to another. Microsoft is also promising the same synchronization between PCs and mobile devices running Windows Phone 7.
Windows 8 will also integrate more smoothly with SkyDrive, Microsoft's online storage site. Documents, photos, and other files that you create locally can be saved to SkyDrive, accessed from any PC, and even shared with other people that you designate. Microsoft will reportedly still limit SkyDrive users to 25 gigabytes of space for most files but offer unlimited storage for photos or Office documents.
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The new operating system will further rely on the new Metro user interface to let you access and share different information, whether it's online or offline. Booting into Metro will show you tiles for key services, such as e-mail, calendar, and contacts. The e-mail feature can connect to multiple accounts, such as work and home. The Calendar can also display appointments for work and home as well as those of friends, family, or colleagues with Windows Live accounts.
People is Microsoft's new address book, which ties together all your contacts, including those from Facebook and LinkedIn. And the new Photos app in Windows 8 can show you photos from your local PC, another PC, SkyDrive, and other services.
The company is also opening up Windows Live and SkyDrive to developers who want to incorporate those services into their own applications or devices.
Microsoft demonstrated several of the new features in Windows 8 at its Build conference last week. Those of you who want to get a taste of the Live integration in action so far can download and install the Developer Preview edition.